Last hurrah for Martyn and Donna Phillips as they farewell Coffs Hotel

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day 2022 were Wally Walton, Martyn Phillips, Samuel Phillips, Donna Phillips, Max Phillips, Peta Phillips Hornberg, Kyle Hornberg and Norman the Irish Wolfhound.

MARTYN ‘Marty’ and Donna Phillips, publicans of the Coffs Hotel, are “hanging up the bar stool for the last time”.

For almost 27 years, the couple has pulled beers, cooked up the feeds, supported the sports community, provided accommodation, created an atmosphere and had some brilliant entertainment and functions.

UnrealestateAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

After all these years, the time has come to call it a day, with Martyn and Donna deciding to move on.

“We came to the conclusion that after working seven days a week we’d like to go out with our good health, see more of our grandchildren and look at what else we might do,” Martyn told News Of The Area.

“We’re going out with a ‘last hurrah’,” Martyn said.

The Hotel has two big final events planned.

Oktoberfest celebrations on Saturday, 29 October have been moved from The Jetty to the Hotel due to ground conditions.

The following Friday, 4 November, the Hotel will host an Irish Night.

“We’d love to see everyone come along and enjoy our show of appreciation to our friends, customers and the community,” Martyn said.

Coffs Hotel has been the venue of choice for so many locals for decades.

“From our regular customers to travellers passing through, from swaggies to court magistrates, numerous sporting teams to Hollywood movie stars, we’ve had the privilege of welcoming people from all walks of life.

“We’ve worked overtime to protect the Hotel Licence now that it’s so regulated and scrutinised it’s been full-on, but we found a balance and kept up our service.”

“The laws they are a-changin’,” said Martyn.

And when he says “we” he means both he and his wife Donna.

“I couldn’t have done this without Donna, she is and always has been the backbone of the family run business.

“At one time we were hoping our children would maybe take over the hotel but they are going down different paths which in one way makes me happy because I really didn’t want them to experience what I have.”

Hospitality runs through the Phillips family blood.

Martyn’s dad was a publican, and his great grandfather Albert Osbourne was in charge of the Cobb & Co Stagecoach Station in Bendemeer just before the turn of the century, serving food and drinks.

Martyn’s face lights up when he recalls the way he got into the pub game.

“When my dad owned the Wardell Hotel (Northern Rivers) I moved up from Wollongong, taking all my belongings with me.

“I got there in the mid afternoon after driving twelve hours and tried to say g’day to my dad; both him, mum and Jimmy the barman were behind a busy bar full of cane cutters.

“Dad called out, ‘If you want something to do, get behind the bar and give us a hand’.

“I was in boardshorts, thongs and a singlet, but I got behind the bar for the first time in my life.

“I learnt a lot on that shift, being eighteen years old…I used the old-fashioned till where you had to hold your belly against the till tray to stop the coins flying out and going everywhere.”

Another thing he learned on that day was how to put a Father Smith collar on a beer.

“It was something the thirsty cane cutters would yell out, ‘put a Father Smith on it’.”

Father Smith was the local priest, so he wore his religious attire which meant the white collar being a head on the beer.

There was also an ongoing tradition that Father Smith could come in any time and have a meal for free, a tradition the Phillips family carried on from past publicans.

Martyn then followed his dad to Mittagong and was going to forge himself firmly into the business when his dad got ill and decided to retire to Sawtell together with his mum.

“Twenty years later Donna and I decided to take on a hotel and chose the Coffs Hotel which we’ve called home for almost 27 years.”

Now the pub is changing hands and getting a renovation and a new broom.

Martyn and Donna didn’t want to be there when they knocked out the front bar and started changing things around too much as there’s so much history over the years and stories to be told.

“We enjoy what we have created and love our clientele.

“Well, most of the clientele,” Martyn laughs.

“So if people want to come down and say ‘see ya later’ before the renos start, we’d love your company, either at the two big Last Hurrah events or any time before 7 November,” said Martyn.

What does the future hold?

“We are looking to do something in the community, hopefully my experience operating a hotel can bring me a job supporting the community.”

Watch this space, but first, it’s time to celebrate a very fine innings with ‘Marty’ and Donna at their Last Hurrah:

The Oktoberfest on Saturday 29 October and The Last Hurrah Irish night with Tallowwood up front and the pipe band surrounding the hotel.

Marty and Donna are calling it ‘An Appreciation To All Our Customers’ night.

For details see The Coffs Facebook page at


One thought on “Last hurrah for Martyn and Donna Phillips as they farewell Coffs Hotel

  1. Thankyou for all the family get togethers, birthday parties constantly, Drag Idol, WAKY karoake for the disabled.
    Fun nights many meals.
    You will be both missed by us all

Leave a Reply